Welcome to a new series we are hoping to be doing on our website blog! We repair and service lots of film cameras every week, and wanted to show what we get up to behind-the-scenes.
DISCLAIMER: these posts are not intended to be a how-to on repairs. We recommend booking a repair or service in with us, rather than taking apart your beloved camera and risking further damage.
A few cameras have been sitting in our repair queue for a while. They have been requiring in-depth repairs that are difficult to do when you are not in the right mindset.
But let's start with a few of the simpler repairs we completed this week.
Firstly, an Olympus Mju II came into the office with the hope of being put on the website. When the camera was inspected, we realised the battery door was broken.
Unfortunately, this is a common issue with Olympus Mju II cameras, but usually only occur when the camera is damaged and people do not know how to open the battery door safely.
If you have a broken Olympus Mju II battery door or other plastic part, get in touch with us.
Next up in the repair queue was an Olympus Trip 35. The camera was “serviced” in 2019 by another company, and was repaired 6 months ago by another company.
When the camera came to us, it was clear that the standard of service was not up to our standards, as they had not replaced the internal light seal of the camera. Below shows the mouldy light seal that was not removed.
As well as this, the aperture blades were stuck. This is what the customer had repaired six months ago. Upon disassembly, there were some oil deposits on the aperture blades, which may happen after a number of years, not a matter of months.
The aperture blades were cleaned fully, and the surrounding area was cleaned as well to make sure there was no oil that can transfer to the blades again.
Another puzzling Olympus Pen EES-2 camera came in, where someone had attempted to repair the loose lens by using a large amount of resin (or really strong glue) around the base of the lens to secure it.
A lot of the time, repairing cameras is undoing the incorrect work of someone else who didn't know what they were doing or fancied doing a DIY repair. What this person should have done is taken the entire shutter mechanism off of the chassis of the camera and tightened the screws.
It took a fair amount of time to remove this bizarre resin/glue situation in order to clean the camera up and restore it to how it was out of the factory. The lens was then tightened correctly, and the camera fully serviced. Other than this, it was in very good condition.
Perhaps the hardest repair we've done this week is on this Pentax ME Super. The customer picked it up cheaply from Facebook Marketplace. And the camera had a fault where it would not cock the shutter after advancing the advance lever.
The camera would, instead, keep opening and closing the aperture blades of the lens, when it should have been cocking the shutter.
In order to repair this issue, the entire mirror box had to be removed from the camera.
The image above shows the internal mechanism on the side of the mirror box. These levers and springs are in charge of moving the mirror out of the way for the shutter to open, then returning the mirror down to take another shot, and then being cocked again for another shot to be taken.
All of these levers play an important part. Taking a few slow-mo videos of the mechanism moving correctly and incorrectly helped me to identify which lever was moving too slowly and not returning to its correct position.
The lever was not moving by around 0.5mm and this was enough to mess up the entire mechanism in charge of cocking the shutter for photographs to be taken.
This repair did take a long time as it was difficult to identify the lever that wasn't working, but once identified, the repair was quite simple. It was also important to rest the camera for a while between each test to make sure the mechanism was working.
There is very little information on how to repair the Fujica Mini. I don't believe they ever made a repair manual for this camera.
Interestingly, this camera came with its original receipt and was purchased on the 9th of May 1966. It's no wonder it needed a repair.
(If you are a fellow repair technician looking for some help with this camera, send us a message!)
The camera is the smallest half-frame camera ever made. It is truly tiny. You can read more about this camera here.
Anyway, this Fujica Mini had a stuck shutter. The blades were stuck about 1cm apart inside the camera, meaning if you loaded film, then light would be exposed directly onto your negatives.
The shutter mechanism was still working, however, which was a very good sign. I was able to fire the shutter and advance to cock the shutter despite the blades being stuck.
In order to repair the blades, the front lens had to be disassembled. Some people attempt to repair shutter blades quickly by going in through the back door, but in order to clean them more effectively, getting as much access to the blades as possible is important.
After cleaning the blades of sand and oil, they were then working again: a very welcome sight.
A camera of this age is especially fragile, and I think this is why we do not see the Fujica Mini for sale in working condition very often.
The above photographs show the underside of the lens mechanism, that also houses controls for the aperture settings. These were covered in oil and debris (mostly sand) from years of use. This oil was most likely the original oils used when the camera was manufactured.
I removed all of the old lubricants and sand, and replaced it with new lubricant, to keep the mechanism gliding smoothly. After the camera was re-assembled, I checked the functionality of the selenium meter and was pleased to see that it was not only working, but also accurate.
Next week will hopefully be a quieter week as we managed to clear a large amount of our repair work this week and get cameras back to waiting owners.
We hope to be able to post about our repair endeavours often, and would love to hear your feedback on this kind of post. If you are looking to have a camera or lens repaired or serviced, get in touch with us here. If you want to see more behind-the-scenes, we post most frequently on Instagram. And if you are a fellow repair technician who fancies a chat, get in touch!
We love creating content here at Cameras By Max, but finding time is really difficult. We would love to create more video content about cameras and also about repairs, so perhaps in the future, this is something we can work towards!
If you like what we do, but can't buy a camera from us, please consider buying us a cup of coffee! It helps us to keep these resources free, consistent, and accessible.